Ever have those days where you realize that there are literally 30 things that need to be done and only roughly 10 viable hours to do them all? Ever see yourself sacrificing sleep or other vital healthy functions in order to get just one more task completed? Ever feel like you spent the whole day checking off “to-do” items and then feel like you did nothing at the end of the day?
That’s me…often. And whether you want to admit it or not, I know I’m not alone on this!
So how do I circumvent these feelings and regain a sense of accomplishment? There are a few things I do, and am working on new techniques to continue improving my balancing act, that I want to share because they have helped me immensely.
- Plan my day. Now, I know the big trend right now involves planners (and planner pens and stickers and glitter and unicorns…) but realistically in the days of technology, is it advantageous to keep a physical planner? In my opinion, no. So how do I plan my day? I use what I almost ALWAYS have with me – my cell phone; which in my case is an iPhone so it is synced to my laptop which makes recording the day a little easier.
Anyway, I plan the next day in the evening. I type out my agenda on my calendar (work, appointments, grocery runs, etc.), enter my reminders with specific day(s)/time(s) notifications (pick up dry cleaning at 6 pm on Wednesday, for example), and I account for those little things like a 30-minute block for a workout or 1 hour to study (the life of a grad student). This allows me to visualize my day and make sure that I am utilizing my time effectively.
- Take breaks and utilize them. So often during a workday, we get so consumed by the task at hand that we forget to even use the bathroom until the situation is dire! So on my work calendar, I have pre-scheduled my breaks and blocked off my time. Those 15 minutes or 1-hour lunches are mine and I use them as I need to. There are days were I honestly take a naps or I make appointment calls or I take walks. Yes, I am very busy at work, but if I am not taking care of my physical/mental health during those times, I am a waste.
- Decide my ensemble the night before. As a female in a leadership role, I have to play a certain part in my job. With that comes a certain type of clothing as well. And while I don’t usually wear a lot of makeup, I do have to dress the part. So I strive to pick out my clothing the night before so there is no rush to analyze every wardrobe piece at 6 AM, in the dark.
- Meal plan. You knew this was coming, right? So many of you that have been following me for a while know I don’t eat lunch at work (or very rarely do). So what I mean by meal planning is I plan and usually prepare for my protein shake the night before so I can blend it all fresh in the morning. I also put aside snacks/fruits for the next day so it’s more of a grab-and-go kind of situation.
- Preschedule tasks. So you all know I am a coffee fiend, right?
Well, what I make sure to do every night is to prepare the coffee grinds, set the timer, and fill the reservoir the night before so at 7 AM sharp, my coffee is brewed fresh and ready to drink!
I also preschedule some of our other electronics, like the vacuum or the lights or the thermostat so they all go on/off as scheduled and are not things I have to fret over at the end of the day or in the morning – they are all things I really rarely think about nowadays.
- DVR. Sounds silly but there are some shows that my husband and I love to watch since we still have cable, but trying to get those when they are on air is difficult, so we DVR a lot of our shows so we can binge watch on the weekends. Plus we get to skip the 30 minutes of commercials.
Of course, there are a few other tips that I am working my way on implementing in the coming weeks:
- Getting up at 5 AM. This is definitely a work in progress, as I am NOT a morning person, but I also want that dedicated time to myself. What a conundrum! AND this means I need to be in bed by 10…10…okay, if I really want to feel good, 9:30 but realistically 11.
- Updating my productivity app. Yes, there is an app for that. I want to make sure that I can also reflect at the end of the day of all the things that I accomplished, still need to finish, and what may eventually come as well. I am looking at integrating Evernote into my daily operations so even at work, I can make notes to review later.
- Capsule my wardrobe. There is a lot of science behind creating a capsule wardrobe which makes selecting pieces to wear even simpler and requires more creativity! I want to condense my wardrobe and will definitely post more about this to come.
Inquiring minds want to know… What do you do to help you stay productive? Have you tried any of these tips before?